Health effects of uranium exposure


  1. Stodilka, R.Z.
Corporate Authors
Defence Research Establishment Ottawa, Ottawa ONT (CAN)
This manuscript summarises the risks associated with uranium exposure. Experimental data is available from genetics, tissue culture, and animal and human models. Studies include solubility of different uranium compounds, kinetic properties inside the body, and short- and long-term health effects both from acute and chronic exposures. The potential for uranium entry into the body is highly dependent upon its chemical and physical properties. Inhalation and dermal contact afford the most rapid route of entry, while gastrointestinal absorption is often minimal. The kidneys are efficient at clearing uranium dissolved in the blood, usually within days. Insoluble forms of uranium such as imbedded shrapnel can remain in the body for many years, resulting in persistent elevated levels of uranium in urine. The most important potential for uranium toxicity lies with its chemical properties - not its radiological properties. The most probable health outcomes for uranium toxicity are kidney disease and cancer. Limited data suggests that cumulative pulmonary exposure up to 25 cGy probably does not increase the risk of lung cancer. Nevertheless, there are many gaps in the understanding of the toxicological profile of uranium. Filling these gaps requires monitoring exposed individuals for long periods of time due to the range of latency periods between exposure and health outcome diagnosis.

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Depleted uranium;Heavy metal
Report Number
DREO-TR-2001-044 — Technical Report
Date of publication
01 Jun 2001
Number of Pages
Hardcopy;Document Image stored on Optical Disk

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